Best Nursery

Most of the plants at Tropical World Nursery didn't just pop up in some mass-produced South Florida farm. Many of the bromeliads, cacti, and orchids have traveled farther than you did on your last vacation. Tropical World grows most of its stuff a few thousand miles away, on the side of a dormant Mexican volcano. The nursery's South of the Border location, at 3,500 feet above sea level, allows it to produce plants that won't grow to maturity in South Florida's heat. Once of age, the plants can survive in local backyards, says owner Michael Marino, who makes regular trips to Mexico to retrieve the full-grown specimens. Many of the rare varieties are shipped via suitcase on domestic flights. That overhead doesn't make Tropical World the kind of place most folks will go to landscape the entire homefront, but the unique blooms of one-of-a-kind plants make it ideal for a yard's finishing touches. And they do have some deals. Check out the $6 cape primrose, or streptocarpus, a relative of the African violet. They also have carnivorous pitcher plants (sarracenia) that grow in burgundy colors with orchid-looking leaves for $5. The best part is that you can brag to the neighbors that your new shrubbery is volcano-grown.

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